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Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

When I was a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Valley Heights Elementary School in New Kensington, my uncle, George Rotter, called and asked me to stop over at my grandmother's house for lunch the next day. He had just been honorably discharged as a first lieutenant from the U.S. Army after serving in Italy in World War II.

When I arrived at my grandmother's, he showed me a .25-caliber Beretta pistol. It was unloaded and he had removed the firing pin.

He gave it to me as a war souvenir and I was very excited. The pistol fit into my pocket and I went back to school.

I went to the principal, Welty McLaughlin, and explained the circumstances. He checked my pistol to make sure it was empty, put it in his desk and told me to come back after school, which I did.

He gave me the pistol and told me to hold it in front of me on the way home because he didn't want me to get in trouble for having a concealed weapon.

When I got home, my dad checked the pistol and put it away for me. Mr. McLaughlin was a very strict, but fair, principal and he knew all of his students. He felt that it was safe for me to take this pistol home.

I think this was a much better way to handle this than the way schools do now. As a friend said to me, “Common sense is no longer common.”

Robert Key


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